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Make a working laptop with just a Raspberry Pi Zero and a Lapdock

In recent years, devices like the Raspberry Pi and Arduino have dramatically expanded the scope of what hobbyists can achieve with DIY computing projects. Because of their size and their price, these single-board computers have been used in the creation of everything from home media centers to a space-ready X-Wing.

Now, one creative Raspberry Pi Zero owner has used the $5 device as the foundation of a fully fledged laptop. Combined with the little-known (and discontinued) Motorola Lapdock, it makes for a finished product that’s definitely ingenious — even if it’s not the easiest method of gaining access to a basic laptop.

The Lapdock was originally conceived as a smartphone-compatible shell intended to deliver a laptop-like experience. The product never took off in the way that Motorola hoped it would, but it’s since found an audience among tinkerers thanks to its compatibility with devices like the Raspberry Pi, according to a report from Liliputing.

Related: Raspberry Pi vs. Chip: Battle of the palm-sized PCs

Previous iterations of the Raspberry Pi and similar computers from other manufacturers worked well with the Lapdock, but the wiring used to connect the two devices could make things messy. Thanks to the tiny form factor of the Raspberry Pi Zero, it can be neatly placed within the Lapdock with these wires hidden away.

Raspberry Pi Zero Lapdock
Images posted by the project’s creator, Ax0n.

However, this project is only really cost-effective if you already have all the necessary elements to hand, even given the bargain price tag on the Zero. The Lapdock range only survived for about a year after launching in 2011, and the devices tend to go for more than their original retail price on services like eBay.

Still, if you happen to have an old Lapdock gathering dust and $5 to spare, it might be worth trying out this build for yourself. It might not be a PC capable of running the latest video games, but it’s certainly an interesting project.